Palace of Versailles - the most important information
This national landmark is situated in the city of Versailles, less than 20 km outside of Paris. Known for its lavish style and gardens, it is a former royal residence open to the public. You can visit it all year round, and a trip to Versailles is an essential part of the French experience.
History of the Palace of Versailles
This place was originally a hunting lodge of Louis XIII, but in 1624 it started growing when French architect Jacques Lemercier took on construction of a château. With king Louis XIV in charge, the Palace became even bigger and more glamorous, now hosting social events and being the primary location for leisure activities of royalty. In 1682 French court and government relocated to it when it became their principal residence. It remained home to the Kings of France until the French revolution when it almost even got destroyed. The Palace became a museum dedicated to the French and its successes in 1837. UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 1979 for its attributions to history, architecture, and landscape design. Today we can explore some of its 2.300 rooms that take around 63.150 square meters of space.
What to see?
Going to Versailles to visit the Palace and the rest of the estate is a whole day trip. Experience has shown that it takes around 10 hours to explore all of the essential parts that make this place the magnificent wonder. Favorite stops along the way are:
- Hall of Mirrors: Finished in 1684, this glorious Baroque gallery on the first floor perfectly captures the essence of monarchy that king Louis XIV wanted to showcase. It consists of 357 mirrors across 17 arches, bronze, marble, and porphyry sculptures, chandeliers, and works of art on the ceiling.
- King's and Queen's state apartments: 11 rooms are saved and can be seen. The most interesting part is the difference in decor styles. King's crimson room felt dark and was filled with art compared to the Queen's light and floral designs on the walls and furniture. He used it for entertainment and ceremonial purposes, while the Queen actually spent her free time in the apartment and used it as a bedroom.
- The Gardens: From fountains and sculptures to an amazing maze, be one of 6 million people who walk through a garden that is one of the most visited public sites in France. Don't miss the Musical garden and the fountain shows!
- Estate of Trianon: We all need some privacy, especially if we are royalty. This part of the estate consists of places such as The Queen's Hamlet, The English, and the French Gardens, Petit, and Grand Trianons that were regularly visited by kings and queens when they wanted to enjoy their particular interests.
Tickets and opening hours
- The Palace is open: for visitation throughout the week, except on Mondays, from 9 am to 5:30 pm. You can visit The Park and Gardens free of charge every day, but some fees have to be paid if you want to witness the fountain shows. Every part of the estate has its own opening hours; to learn more about the best time to visit and specific opening hours, go to Palace Versailles official website.
- Tickets: You need to book a time slot to visit the Palace, whether you already have a ticket or are eligible for free admission. Prices vary and can even be reduced when you buy them online on a presale. You can pay 8.5€ for just the Musical garden, visit the Estate of Trianon for 12€ or buy an unlimited 1-year access ticket for 55€. Guided tours are 10€ extra. To find the ticket best suited for your needs and learn if you are eligible for free admission, check out this overview of Palace Versailles tickets.
How to get to the Palace of Versailles?
The city of Versailles is located about 16 km southwest of Paris, and the easiest and cheapest way to get to it is by train. If you prefer driving to the Palace, you'll find parking space at the Place d'Armes, alongside bike parks.
- By Train: You can take the RER C train to the Chateau rive Gauche train station that has very regular departures and takes you to a 10 min walking distance from the Palace; Line L from north of Paris at Saint Lazare station to Versailles Rive droite or TER N from Paris Montparnasse to the Versailles Rive Gauche chantier. Tickets sell for around 7-8€.
- By car: Drive along the Seine up until the right turn onto Boulevards des Maréchaux/Pont du Garigliano. Continue on Boulevard Exelmans and stay on until you reach the A13 ramp to Versailles/Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines/Rouen. Stay on the A13 road up until exit 5 toward Versailles-Centre, take it and then merge onto Bd de Jardy/D182. Continue on the Av. des États Unis/D185 and move onto Av. Rockefeller from where the Palace isn't far away.
Palace of Versailles trivia
- Treaty that brought WWI to an end was signed in the Palace of Versailles, more precisely in the Hall of Mirrors.
- The mirrors were a scandal of their own that shook two nations. When the Hall of Mirrors was being built, the monopoly on mirror manufacturing was held by Venice. France managed to convince a few Venetian artisans to desert their country and come to do the work anyway. That resulted in their deaths in an attempt to preserve the secret of mirror making from the French.
- It's hard to imagine that this place was once a swamp that had to be dried out and filled with soil and stones to make favorable terrain for building a palace. At its full capacity, it housed a royal court of 5.000.
- Even during the time when the Palace of Versailles was the residence of the king, people could come to visit it and walk around. But, there was a catch. You had to come well-dressed or rent nice attire at the entrance.
- This Palace has seen good and bad, from an assassination attempt on King Louis XV to Mozart playing the chapel's organ in his childhood.